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#4404783 - 02/12/18 08:56 PM Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Wood as Strong as Steel  
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Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Wood as Strong as Steel
And it can stop bullets, too.


DAVID NIELD 9 FEB 2018

Scientists have developed a new type of "super wood" that is more than 10 times stronger and tougher than normal wood - and this innovation could potentially become a natural and inexpensive substitute for steel and other materials.

Key to the new wood's superpowers is a special chemical treatment followed by a heated compression process. The resulting chemical bonds make the wood strong enough to one day be used in buildings and vehicles.

It could even take a turn in new armour plating – the researchers fired bullet-like projectiles at their new super wood and found they got lodged in the material rather than blasting their way through, as they did with standard-strength wood.

[Linked Image]

(University of Maryland)

"This new way to treat wood makes it 12 times stronger than natural wood and 10 times tougher," says senior researcher Liangbing Hu, from the University of Maryland.

"This could be a competitor to steel or even titanium alloys, it is so strong and durable. It's also comparable to carbon fibre, but much less expensive."

"It is both strong and tough, which is a combination not usually found in nature," adds another of the team, Teng Li from the University of Maryland.

"It is as strong as steel, but six times lighter. It takes 10 times more energy to fracture than natural wood. It can even be bent and moulded at the beginning of the process."

The new process used here has two steps. First, natural wood is boiled in a mix of sodium hydroxide and sodium sulphite, which is actually similar to the process made to create wood pulp for paper.

Next, the wood goes through a compression phase to collapse the walls between individual cells. Heat is added to encourage new chemical bonds while the wood continues to be compressed.

Those processes are able to strip out certain polymers to allow the new wood to reform while also keeping other polymers essential to the wood's strength.

The strengthening ultimately comes from large numbers of hydrogen atoms bonding to nanofibres of cellulose, already naturally in the structure of the wood.

The chemical reactions are quite complex, but the procedure itself is actually pretty simple and inexpensive – and because wood literally grows on trees, it's a promising option for replacing steel, titanium alloys, and other materials in certain situations.

The process has been shown to work on several different varieties of wood as well.

The finished super wood is strong, tough, and light, as we've already mentioned, but it's also impressively dense, resistant to compression, hard and scratch-resistant, and even inherently protected against moisture.

As well as fitting it to aircraft and cars, the new super wood could also be used in furniture, allowing fast-growing woods like balsa or pine to replace denser but slower-growing options such as teak.

There's a lot more work to do before you'll see a wooden jumbo jet rolling down the runway though.

One of the next steps is to scale up and speed up the process of producing this new wood – though the researchers say that shouldn't pose too much of a problem.

"It is particularly exciting to note that the method is versatile for various species of wood and fairly easy to implement," says engineering scientist Huajian Gao from Brown University in Rhode Island, who wasn't involved in the study.

"The [published] paper provides a highly promising route to the design of lightweight, high performance structural materials, with tremendous potential for a broad range of applications where high strength, large toughness and superior ballistic resistance are desired."

The research has been published in Nature.

https://www.sciencealert.com/new-super-wood-stronger-than-steel

inb4:

"Super wood"


[Linked Image]

Now seriously, exciting discovery, with a ton of useful applications.

I wonder if the process is applicable to other plant fibers like hemp and bamboo as well?

Inline advert (2nd and 3rd post)

#4404786 - 02/12/18 09:20 PM Re: Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Wood as Strong as Steel [Re: Crane Hunter]  
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Bullet-like projectiles? Researches couldn't get their hands on a firearm, I presume...

But didn't the Soviets at least claim they did something similar, with 'Delta-wood' back in the '40s? It was wood infused with phenolic resin via chemical process and then heat treated, if I recall correctly. Critical structure such as spars for aircraft were made that way, according to the claims.

This was discussed to the point of nausea back in the old IL2 forums at Ubi.


What kind of car is that? What does it matter? When I drive it, I'm Steve McQueen
#4404791 - 02/12/18 10:03 PM Re: Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Wood as Strong as Steel [Re: Crane Hunter]  
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When I first read the thread title, I expected to see Bill Grant had started it... winkngrin

Seriously though, interesting stuff.

#4404864 - 02/13/18 05:34 AM Re: Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Wood as Strong as Steel [Re: Crane Hunter]  
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The next spacecraft to venture out to explore the solar system planets could be made of wood and be called "Ark 1"


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#4404868 - 02/13/18 06:58 AM Re: Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Wood as Strong as Steel [Re: Crane Hunter]  
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Bullet-like projectiles? Researches couldn't get their hands on a firearm, I presume...


I'll see if I can track down the article that had pictures, but they use a standard fragment simulator (basically a cylinder of known size, weight, and density) launched from an air cannon at very close range to ensure a very standardized velocity. About the only time you actually want to shoot something is when testing actual bullets. The NIJ has been looking for a way to use control "bullet simulators" for decades for ballistic vest testing for the same reason. They have to handload, chrono, run a statistical analysis, and then finally once their test ammo is verified as within spec, they can shoot it at an armor panel. So much easier to just have a calibrated air cannon.

-Jenrick

#4404903 - 02/13/18 12:07 PM Re: Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Wood as Strong as Steel [Re: Crane Hunter]  
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Had Stalin named himself "Man of Wood" instead it would have been a poor marketing choice.


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#4405051 - 02/14/18 01:58 AM Re: Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Wood as Strong as Steel [Re: jenrick]  
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Originally Posted by jenrick
Quote
Bullet-like projectiles? Researches couldn't get their hands on a firearm, I presume...


I'll see if I can track down the article that had pictures, but they use a standard fragment simulator (basically a cylinder of known size, weight, and density) launched from an air cannon at very close range to ensure a very standardized velocity. About the only time you actually want to shoot something is when testing actual bullets. The NIJ has been looking for a way to use control "bullet simulators" for decades for ballistic vest testing for the same reason. They have to handload, chrono, run a statistical analysis, and then finally once their test ammo is verified as within spec, they can shoot it at an armor panel. So much easier to just have a calibrated air cannon.

-Jenrick


Well...when touting it as armor, resisting the actual thing is desirable. From professional experience I can assure you that components of modern day armor are indeed tested by actual bullets fired from firearms. I review these reports from time to time to make sure testing was passed, and the firearm used for test, the round used in the firearm, the lot it came from, the performance of the material, and the certification from the testing lab are all things the customer (a government) requires.


What kind of car is that? What does it matter? When I drive it, I'm Steve McQueen
#4405071 - 02/14/18 05:27 AM Re: Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Wood as Strong as Steel [Re: 462cid]  
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Originally Posted by 462cid
Originally Posted by jenrick
Quote
Bullet-like projectiles? Researches couldn't get their hands on a firearm, I presume...


I'll see if I can track down the article that had pictures, but they use a standard fragment simulator (basically a cylinder of known size, weight, and density) launched from an air cannon at very close range to ensure a very standardized velocity. About the only time you actually want to shoot something is when testing actual bullets. The NIJ has been looking for a way to use control "bullet simulators" for decades for ballistic vest testing for the same reason. They have to handload, chrono, run a statistical analysis, and then finally once their test ammo is verified as within spec, they can shoot it at an armor panel. So much easier to just have a calibrated air cannon.

-Jenrick


Well...when touting it as armor, resisting the actual thing is desirable.



They're not trying to sell it to the Army just yet, if the time comes to actually think seriously about using this as armor I'm sure real guns will be used to test it.


“Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government-- in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.” - Milton Friedman

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